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Late Graham Zusi equalizer gives Sporting Kansas City 2-2 draw against Seattle Sounders

Apr 15, 2018; Kansas City, KS, USA; Sporting KC midfielder Roger Espinoza (17) battles for the ball against Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan (7) during the second half at Children's Mercy Park. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Graham Zusi was too angry at himself to talk about his second goal of the season. His shot in the 78th minute equalized as Sporting Kansas City (4-1-2, 14 points) played to a 2-2 draw Sunday against the Seattle Sounders (0-3-1, 1 point) in front of an announced 18,508 at Children’s Mercy Park.

But it was his own mistake, he said, that led to Kansas City being down in the first place.

“I’m too pissed about giving up the second goal myself; that second goal was on me for sure,” Zusi said. “I can’t even think about my goal at this point.”

Sporting KC had been pushing for a second goal midway through the second half, still stuck in a 1-1 tie. But Seattle got there first, on the back of a disorganized Kansas City defense. Alex Roldan beat out Zusi near midfield to retain possession and send a pass deep into the attacking third, where Will Bruin streaked toward goal. Bruin danced around in the box just long enough for Cristian Roldan to appear to accept a pass and blast a bullet of a shot into the corner of the net. That shot put Seattle ahead 2-1 with less than 20 minutes remaining and ultimately handed the Sounders their first point of the season.

“I don’t think we played to our level today,” Kansas City manager Peter Vermes said. “I don’t think we were on our game. Regardless of the stats and everything else, I just don’t think we were on top of our game. … We were reactionary. We weren’t anticipating a lot of plays. … We didn’t bring our A-game today for sure.”

Listen: Peter Vermes postgame press conference

It was a reserved Sporting locker room after the match, despite the team coming from behind on a rocket of a Zusi goal that had the Children’s Mercy crowd rocking in sub-freezing temperatures.

In the 78th minute, Zusi took the ball on the right side and barely looked around for another option before charging toward goal. His shot slid between two defenders and behind Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei’s outstretched hands.

“He’s got that quality in him and he actually created a lot more chances for the team from his position today, and he was up and down the sideline quite a bit from a physical perspective,” Vermes said. “He put in a good day’s shift. It’s unfortunate that he wasn’t rewarded a little bit more for the play that he had because I thought he had a very good game today.”

Before Zusi’s equalizer allowed Kansas City to steal back a point at home, the team looked “out of sync,” according to Vermes.

Sporting had taken a 1-0 lead in the 34th minute from Ilie Sanchez coolly sliding in a penalty kick, after an attacking Johnny Russell was taken down in the box.

But in stoppage time of the first half, Seattle’s will Bruin, who later assisted on Roldan’s goal, scored his own. He got off a header that hit the crossbar, but in the ensuing pinball match in the box, Bruin took possession again and converted a point-blank opportunity to tie the match heading into halftime.

 

“To give up the goal that we did right before halftime, we were sleeping in my opinion,” Vermes said. “We were sleeping. … I just don’t think we were ready for it.”

Despite Kansas City’s disappointment, the team remains atop the Western Conference table, hasn’t lost since its season-opening match against NYCFC and is converting chances that it wasn’t last year.

“If you create quality chances on a regular basis, you have to be able to finish them off and one of the things is a game like tonight, unfortunately last year we would have lost and not finished the chance, and we’re tying that, or other games we’re winning instead of tying, because we’re finishing off the high-quality chances that we create,” Vermes said. “And we’re creating a lot of them. We just have players now that are sticking it in the back of the net.”

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